Art We Heart: zin
September 21st 2016
Still from Each Other, LiveWorks Festival, Performance Space, October 2015.
“It’s like in Power Rangers. Our solo practices are almost unrecognisable from one another – but when we collaborate, it clicks into something much bigger and better.”
zin is the love child of Harriet Gillies and Roslyn Helper. At first glance, zin is a performance art duo that makes art about the internet. But just like the algorithm used to sort your news feed on Facebook, zin’s art is complex and directly affected by your actions. zin may very well understand you better than you know yourself.
zin is “life art,” according to Roslyn. The duo “interrogate, break down, question and play with the social forms and structures that we all participate in”. zin use the internet and computers as their medium; an inevitable consequence of making socially engaged art in 2016. But they don’t intend to be overly critical of the internet, since for all the bad online, there’s also good. “You know – like humanity,” says Harriet.
What is unique about zin is the way they activate their audience. This idea began when Harriet and Roslyn were at university, and the sense of political apathy inspired them to shake things up. zin cultivate a sense of ownership in their audience, resulting in works that are participatory and fun. As an audience member, each of your actions will have a consequence, and you’ll be forced to question existing social structures.
Take, for example, Party Mode (2013). You arrive at a party, where you can use your personal information as currency. You can exchange your birth date or your relationship status for a beer.
Exploring issues of online privacy, Party Mode is really fun – but then it makes you think. Like art’s version of the Ig Nobel Award.
zin are currently focussed on festival works, working with Underbelly, Liveworks, Sydney Festival and more. Harriet and Roslyn also make theatre and art separately. “It’s like in Power Rangers,” says Harriet. “Our solo practices are almost unrecognisable from one another – but when we collaborate, it clicks into something much bigger and better.”
They were both drawn to this world of experimental performance art because it gives them room for expression and experimentation. Roslyn sums it up with a Yoko Ono quote: “Artists are like politicians, but they can say whatever they want.”
zin’s next project, The internet is where innocence goes to die and you can come too, explores surfing the web as a performative act. It kicks off at the Melbourne Fringe Festival next week. Be sure to click ‘attending’ next time you see zin pop up on your news feed.
Party Mode, Underbelly Arts Festival, 2013
The internet is where innocence goes to die and you should come too, Kaldor Public Art Projects Residency, 2013
WHAT: The internet is where innocence goes to die and you can come too
WHERE: Arts House, Melbourne Fringe Festival Hub
WHEN: 24 September – 1 October
HOW MUCH: $20 – $25
FBi’s Arts & Culture executive producer.Read more from Nerida Ross